• Dessert,  Fillings,  Sweets

    Lemon Curd

    Lemon curd, when made right, taste like sunshine. And after making your own you won’t want to buy it from a jar ever again. It’s bright, smooth, and silky. It doesn’t apologize for the butter and egg that is used to make it. Because that is what gives it such a velvety texture. It’s tart and sweet and so versatile.

    I feel like Bubba from Forest Gump when I start naming all of the uses for this but possibilities are pretty endless. First just eat it like it is or spread it on your croissant, hearty whole grain bread, waffle or pancake for breakfast. Grab your favorite short bread cookie or merengue and get dipping. Top a slice of pound cake and add berries for a beautiful dessert. Fill puff pastry and make a turnover. Grab a tart shell and fill or top your favorite cheese cake with it… are you getting some good ideas? Because as I’m writing this I keep thinking up more ways.

    If those weren’t enough for you, make your favorite cake and use this as a filling. It somehow defies all logic to think that something that starts with butter and eggs can not feel so heavy. It brightens up whatever you decide to add it too. I actually made a white cake, 3 layers and added this as one of the filling layers and used raspberry preserves for the other. The combination is classic and so summery. I frosted the cake with cream cheese frosting.

    Don’t be afraid to make your own and come up with different ways to eat it. It’s so worth it. Enjoy!


    Lemon Curd

    Course Breakfast, Dessert, filling, spread
    Keyword dessert, filling, lemon, lemon curd
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    cooling 3 hours


    • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
    • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 4 lg whole eggs
    • 1 lg egg yolk
    • 1/4 cup lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • pinch salt


    • Whisk sugar, butter and lemon zest
    • Add whole eggs and egg yolk whisk to combine then mix in lemon juice and pinch of salt. Now don't freak out…it will look awful at this point. But it gets better. Trust me.
    • Add mixture to sauce pan and over low heat begin to cook stirring constantly.
    • Its starts to look pretty good, as you can see I don't worry about the lemon seeds we are going to strain them out later.
    • Cook until it starts to thicken, do not let it boil. Check for nappe, it will coat the back of a spoon and when you make a stripe it will stay there.
    • If you want another way to test for doneness you can use your thermometer, you are looking for a temperature of 170 degrees
    • Strain. Capturing any lemon seeds, or yucky egg bits.
    • Place over an ice bath to cool, then place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and place in the fridge to continue cooling for at least 2-3 hours.


    Now how do I use lemon curd in my kitchen…besides slathering it on everything? I love to fill cakes and pastries with it. Tarts, cakes, donuts, turnovers, cheese cake topper… Its amazing on croissants, on a nice piece of pound cake. Can you tell that I like lemon curd. by the way,  I make other “curds” pretty much the same way. Lime, passion fruit, grapefruit… Have fun with it! Enjoy!
  • Dessert,  Sweets

    “Ring ding” inspired cakes

    Isn’t it crazy how things come about? My husband and I were watching Transformers, a movie we have seen a million times before, and there is a part where the president asks one of his staff members on the plane to “rustle him up some ring dings”. Well that turned into a whole debate about what snack cake was the best, and how much they have changed, how much smaller they are and how they no longer taste as good as they used to.

    I knew what was coming next….

    My husband turns to me and asks “can you make me some ring dings?” How could I say no? Admittedly I should have said maybe another time… as I started these at 8:30 at night, but I have made this chocolate sheet cake so many times that I can do it in my sleep. And as it turns out all of the ingredients were already in my pantry.

    Now my problem is that he is making a mental list of all of the other snack cakes he used to love that he wants me to recreate. Once again I have created a monster. LOL!


    Home made “ring dings”

    A home version of a childhood treat
    Course Dessert, Snack
    Keyword Cake
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    cooling 1 hour


    • 2 sticks unsalted butter
    • 1 cup coffee
    • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup sour cream
    • 2 lg eggs
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    marshmallow butter cream

    • 1 1/2 sticks unstalted butter softened
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • pinch salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp heavy cream
    • 2 cups marshmallow fluff

    chocolate ganache

    • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips 1 package
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream


    • Prepare your pan, spray with pan spray and lay a sheet of parchment on it. In a small bowl combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
    • in a medium pot over medium heat add butter, cocoa, sugar and coffee
    • Whisk until melted and it just begins to bubble then take it off the heat
    • dump in the flour, baking soda and salt and begin whisking
    • Then add sour cream, egg and vanilla mixture and whisk to combine it all
    • Pour into prepared pan and even out as best you can and place in the oven.
    • It takes about 12-14 minutes and I rotate the pan half way to prevent one side from being higher. Let cool.

    Marshmallow Frosting

    • While the cake is cooking make your frosting. Whip your softened butter until it lightens, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Then add powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine. Then add vanilla and heavy cream and whisk until fluffy 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of fluff and whip just to combine.
    • Cut cake in half and add frosting on half of the cake and spread.
    • Then flip the other half onto the frosted side. Freeze for 15 minutes to set up.
    • After cake starts to set up, its time to cut. I used rounds, which does leave a lot of scraps that the people in my house were more than happy to take off my hands, but you can easily cut into squares.
    • once again after you have cut out your rounds (or squares) return to the freezer to set up another 15-20 minutes.


    • Take your package of chocolate chips, I used nestle this time because that is all I had in the pantry. Place into a bowl. Heat heavy cream until just scalded (bubbles start to form on the edges but its not to a boil). Dump the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Then whisk it smooth. It will be thick almost a pudding consistency.
    • Time to glaze up the cakes. Remove the cakes from the freezer and place about 2 tsp of ganache on the top. Smooth it out and using an off set spatula or spread ganache on the sides.
    • Add sprinkles and place in the refridgerator to set up. ( I placed it in the freezer so I can let it set up quicker in order to cover with plastic wrap for the net day)


    You can use milk chocolate or even white chocolate if you prefer. Both would be yummy!
    I use this chocolate sheet cake recipe for a lot of things, its rich and dense and works well with layering. I’ve been known to keep one made in my freezer for quick dessert….
  • Dessert,  Sweets

    Quiet Easter this year.

    This year Easter will be quiet. It will be myself and my husband at home. We will be missing the kids, grandkids and family. But we know that this is only temporary and we will be together again soon.

    Until then, we are trying to keep a sense of normal. So we will have our Easter dinner, and our sweets. We will have family together…on FaceTime. We will make plans for the good times ahead and we will know that someday soon we will get those warm hugs from the ones we love the most.

    Today I’m sharing with you a little bit of our normal. A warm hug from me to you. Please enjoy the carrot cake recipe.

    Happy Easter!


    Carrot Cake

    warm spicy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
    Course Dessert
    Keyword Cake, Sweets
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes


    • Stand mixer
    • box grater
    • off set spatula


    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 1 1/2 cups Canola oil
    • 4 lg eggs
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon ground
    • 1 tsp ginger ground
    • 1/4 tsp cloves ground
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 medium carrots peeled and grated
    • 1 1/2 cups walnuts chopped

    Cream cheese Frosting

    • 8 oz cream cheese softened
    • 8 oz unsalted butter 2 sticks
    • 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    Decorating frosting

    • 8 oz unsalted butter 1 stick
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp half and half
    • food coloring


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your pans. Spray and line with parchment.
      Gather your ingredients together
    • In a large mixing bowl add, oil, eggs, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla. Mix for about 2 minutes until well combined.
    • Add flour and mix
    • Add carrots and walnuts and mix in by hand.
    • Split batter between 2 pans and bake. 350 for about 40 minutes. Rotate pan after 20 minutes.
    • Remove from oven, cool in pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to rack to cool.
      Make frosting.

    Cream cheese frosting

    • Add cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl with paddle attachment and mix on medium for about 2 minutes, scraping down half way.
    • Add 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and mix for another 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Remove from bowl and set aside.
      In the same bowl add heavy cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla and with the whip attachement whip until stiff peaks.
      Fold whipped cream into frosting.

    Decorator frosting

    • place stick of butter into mixing bowl with paddle attachment and whip until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes scraping down half way through.
    • add cup of powdered sugar, pinch of salt and vanilla and whip until well combined and fluffy. Seperate into seperate bowls to add colors.
    • Add desired colors and mix well, set aside.
    • Place one of the cakes on a cake board, or plate. Use a little frosting as glue so the cake will not move. Frost and stack.
    • Once coated place in freezer or fridge to set up.
    • Using colored icing, I piped out "carrots" onto wax paper and froze them for 15 minutes.
    • Once they are frozen, you can pop them off and use to decorate your cake
    • Have fun with it!


  • Breads,  Sweets

    Basic Scone Recipe

    I love a good biscuit…and what is a scone but a dressed up biscuit. I also love having a basic recipe that can accommodate all of the crazy combo ideas I have in my head while still coming out fluffy and yummy.

    If any of you came to the cafe and had one of our scones, this was the recipe I used. Its ridiculously simple and a great blank canvas for you to get creative.


    basic scone recipe

    Here is my basic scone recipe, I use it to make all different kind of variations. Both savory and sweet. Its a great jumping off point.
    Course Breads, Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
    Keyword biscuit, Breads, savory, scone, Sweet things
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Servings 8 scones


    • hand grater


    • 3 cup AP Flour
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 12 tbsp unsalted butter 1 1/2 sticks (very cold)
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2 tbsp heavy cream

    Variations Cheddar Jalapeno

    • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
    • 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeno


    • 1 cup cinnamon chips

    Variation Cranberry orange

    • 1 cup craisins
    • 1 tbsp orange zest
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tbsp orange juice

    Variation Raspberry Almond

    • 1 tsp almond extract
    • 1 cup fresh raspberries
    • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp milk
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla


    • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees or 400 degrees convection.
      Line a sheet tray with parchement paper, or spray with non stick spray.
      Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl
    • Grate your cold butter and add it to your bowl
    • Work the flour and butter together just until butter is small pea sized, then add your add ins ( in this case I added cheddar and jalapeno)
    • Mix together with a fork, until evenly distributed. Make a well and add your buttermilk. Bring it together in the bowl with a fork until it starts to come together. If it looks too dry add a little more buttermilk a tablespoon at a time. ( I added 1 more tablespoon) then dump out onto your board (counter).
    • I used parchement paper to fold over the ingredients. It keeps warm hands from melting the butter to much. Fold it over about 5 – 6 times and then shape into a cirlcle. Cut into 8 pieces. Place it on your lined sheet tray.
    • Brush the tops with heavy cream and top with desired topping (I chose a jalapeno ring) (If I was doing a sweet scone I may top it with coarse sugar). A little bit of cheese would be nice as well.
    • Bake for 18-22 minutes, I check it after 15 and rotate the sheet pan.


    For the  Cranberry Orange : add orange zest and craisins to the dry mixture before adding the buttermilk. While the scones are baking make the orange glaze with the powdered sugar and orange juice. Drizzle onto the warm scones.
    For the Raspberry almond: mix your almond extract in with your buttermilk and make the scone without any add ins. Once you dump your mixture onto your board, add the raspberries, incorporating them as you fold them in. Shape and cut as normal and after you brush with heavy cream sprinkle on your sliced almonds to the top. While the scones are baking make your vanilla glaze. Drizzle onto the warm scones.
    For the cheddar jalapeno: I often add a 1/2 cup of chopped cooked bacon to this. If I do I reduce the cheddar to 3/4 of a cup. 
  • Sweets

    Banana Pudding

    This past week my husband and I took a road trip to North Chicago to see our youngest son Jonathan graduate from bootcamp. It was a proud moment for us, and now we have 2 amazing sailors following in their dad’s footsteps…

    I decided to come home and make his favorite dessert. I used to make this one for the cooler at the cafe and before I would even be able to get them into the cooler Jonathan would be right behind me pulling one out, because he knew that there wouldn’t be one left for him at the end of the day.

    I know this is not your classic banana pudding recipe. This is one that I adapted to make it fit the way we eat. I have a problem with desserts that are too sweet to taste the flavors that you worked so hard to put into them. I want to be able to enjoy the taste of the banana and the vanilla of the custard. The hint of cinnamon in my cookie crumbs…and yes, I know cookie crumbs aren’t classic in banana pudding, but I find that texturally it works.

    I hope you give this a try and hopefully it puts a smile on your face. Enjoy!


    Banana pudding

    Home made and a little more grown up, banana pudding. I don't like my deserts to be sooo sweet that you cannot taste the love you put into it.
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Keyword Sweet things
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
    Servings 12


    • heavy bottom pot
    • whisk
    • sieve
    • metal bowl
    • ice bath
    • stand or hand mixer is helpful
    • food processor is helpful


    vanilla custard

    • 4 lg eggs
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tbsp corn starch
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 qt half and half
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1 cup whipping cream
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    cookie crumbles

    • 1 box vanilla wafers keep a few aside for garnish
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted

    The banana part of it…

    • 4 med bananas make sure they are ripe and super sweet
    • 1 cup whipping cream
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla


    Vanilla custard

    • Gather your ingredients, along with a heavy bottom pot, and a whisk
    • Place eggs, sugar, corn starch and salt into your pot and whisk together.
    • Add your half and half and place on the stove over medium heat and whisk.
    • You will keep whisking and stirring to make sure the custard heats evenly, you will begin to see a bunch of bubbles as it starts to heat through.
    • It should take about 15 minutes, the custard will begin to thicken and I remove it as soon as I see the first boil bubble. Take off the heat and add your vanilla and butter and whisk.
    • Pour through a sieve, to make sure there are not curdled bits of egg. Making sure not to push through. ( I tap the edges to get as much through with out worrying about getting any scrambled eggy pieces in my custard)
    • Cool over an ice bath, preferably in a metal bowl stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes before covering with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Place in your fridge and completely cool for at least 4 hours.
    • After it cools and sets in the fridge, whip your cream. Add your whipping cream to your mixing bowl along with your powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until medium to stiff peaks. Fold into your custard.

    Cookie crumbles

    • Place your vanilla wafers (minus what you are using for garnish) into your food processor (or you can place into a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin) add your sugar, salt and cinnamon. Crush until crumbs.
      Add melted butter and mix until it looks like wet sand

    The banana part of it

    • Add your whipping cream to your mixing bowl along with your powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until medium to stiff peaks.
    • slice up your bananas and start to build your banana pudding. Place a heaping tablespoon of crumbs onto the bottom of your chosen cup add a few slices of banana, add about a 1/4 cup of custard and repeat. Top with whipped cream and a vanilla wafer.


    This is my go to vanilla custard. I use this recipe for the base of a bunch of other desserts. Cream puffs, napoleons, fruit tarts….